The question “have you ever paid for sex?” is not your average conversation opener when you first start dating someone. However, it’s something you may want to know if you’ve been with your partner for a while, and see a future with them.
According to a new study, men who’ve paid for sex tend to have less respect and empathy for women in the field of prostitution than men who don’t. And while you might think that has nothing to do with you if you’re not a prostitute, this lack of empathy can translate into a violent temperament towards all women.
The study was just published by Dr. Neil Malamuth of UCLA in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. It looked at 101 men who had paid for sex at one time or another, and 101 men who have never paid for sex, but are prone to being “sexually coercive.” The researchers found that both groups shared similar traits and inclinations, most notably that they feel less emotionally connected to women. It makes sense when you think about it — men who treat sex and the women who offer it as a commodity are less likely to view all women as people rather than things.
Dr. Malamuth spoke to EurekAlert on the psychological reasoning behind these findings. “Both groups tend to have a preference for impersonal sex, a fear of rejection by women, a history of having committed sexually aggressive acts and a hostile masculine self-identification. Those who buy sex, on average, have less empathy for women in prostitution and view them as intrinsically different from other women.” While they may view them as different, the fact that they see another human being as less than them at all does not bode well for them as psychologically well-adjusted partners.
Melissa Farley, the study’s lead author, believes this research will end the debate once and for all over whether or not prostitution is sexual abuse. “We hope this research will lead to a rejection of the myth that sex buyers are simply sexually frustrated nice guys,” she told EurekAlert. While this may help fight those trying to legalize and regulate prostitution, it still leaves these sexual predators out there to pray on women.
Dr. Malamuth has been studying sexual aggression in men for 35 years, and continues to find the same risk factors in men who pay for sex. For the most part, they tend to exhibit a “hostile masculinity,” which can be characterized as someone who views sex more as a sport rather than an intimate event. Scarily enough, this same trait is often found in psychopaths, who also tend to lack empathy, but for all people rather than just women.
This lack of empathy and fear of being rejected can turn into a downright hatred of women. We saw a horrible result of this last year when Elliot Rodger shot and killed six people in the infamous Santa Barbara shootings. All it takes is just one person with a lot of anger, very little respect for life, and a gun to do a devastating amount of damage.
If you feel like the man you’re seeing doesn’t treat you or other women as an equal, or displays any kind of aggressive behavior, you may want to seriously reconsider moving forward in that relationship.